My father was not one to complain about something unless it bothered him incessantly. He had a certain way of ignoring annoyances until they either went away or stopped being annoying. It is a trait that I don't have.
So it is not difficult for me to remember something that he complained about: the knuckle on his right index finger. Every so often, it would swell up to almost twice its normal size with arthritis, and the slightest movement would cause him pain. His flare-ups would last less than a week, but when he was in the middle of one I'd hear him wince over and over throughout the day.
This is a trait that I do have. In the exact same finger. Three or four times per year it shows up on my digital doorstep and hangs out for a few days. Just last week I happened to realize that it had been a long time, more than a year, since the knuckle on my right index finger swelled up, looking like a pale pickle and stiff as three fingers of scotch.
I woke up this morning, went to scratch my head, and saw more stars than the Hubble Telescope. Sometime while I was asleep, my overdue visitor arrived.
My right index finger looks like an albino sausage.
It's literally impossible for me to move the finger without feeling like it is on fire, and simple tasks are rendered, well, not simple. Today (and for the next two or three most likely) I opened the refrigerator, dialed my cell phone, and did one hundred other menial, everyday tasks with my left hand.
Typing this is taking much longer without the use of my primary finger, and every time a different finger on my right hand hits the keyboard, the spike digging through my index finger plunges deeper and deeper.
It's a nuisance, but I'll live. Every time I feel stiffness or pain I am reminded of my father. I never experienced arthritis in the knuckle until a year or so after he died, and I've come to the point that I believe that maybe that wasn't just a coincidence, that a swollen, painful knuckle is a two-to-four day visit from my father.
Just trying to wiggle my finger now, the pain is excruciating.
I hate it and I love it. I want it to go away and I want it to last forever.